Transitioning from hospital to community nursing

19 October 2021 By Michael Bowyer

​Working as a nurse on a hospital ward is a fast-paced, intense and exciting way to administer nursing care to those who need it most. However, many choose to leave the hospital ward’s world of acute care and transition to the extraordinary pace of community nursing.

What is community nursing?

Community nursing plays a vital role in many people’s lives, giving them the care, both clinical and holistic, they need when they are at their most vulnerable. Community nurses administer care from the patient’s own home, clinics, or health centres, allowing them the comfort and reassurance they need of being in familiar surroundings. Community nursing largely caters to the very elderly, disabled or extremely vulnerable, for these patients, hospital settings can cause incredible physical and mental stress that could exacerbate their conditions or fatigue them in other significant ways.

What is the difference between community and hospital nursing?

Put simply, community nursing takes place in the community, in the homes of the patients themselves or local facilities, and hospital nursing takes place in a hospital, surrounded by technical equipment and administered by a team supported by doctors, physiotherapists, pharmacists, technicians and many more people. By comparison, community nurses often operate alone or as a team of two.

Much of the work that community nurses do is ensuring that their patients don’t have to be admitted to hospital, that they receive exceptional preventative care for simple illnesses and injuries, that they’re conditions are properly managed and their families are informed and educated, and that palliative care is administered with compassion and patience.

Community nurse roles and responsibilities:

Community nurses are trained to perform a wide range of clinical procedures, tests and care methods including:

  • Providing basic care, taking temperatures, checking breathing, blood pressure or sugar levels

  • Administering injections

  • Performing examinations

  • Injury care, cleaning and changing dressings for wounds

  • Setting up intravenous drips

  • Monitoring ongoing conditions

  • Medication support

  • Setting up male and female catheters

  • Educating patients and families about medication, conditions, nutrition and lifestyle

In many scenarios, community nurses may be the last person to see a person alive and need to ensure they flag any potential concerns and escalate where they deem fit. They also need to be prepared to administer emergency care.

One responsibility that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to community nurses, is their own personal safety. Community nurses need to adapt to the different environments quickly and identify exits in case of a fire or emergency and need to factor in their own safety with everything they do.

Community nurse skills and qualities:

Community nurses can come from a wide array of backgrounds and transition into the role fairly easily, finding their training and technical knowledge can help them and support their clinical development whilst caring for the community. However, some skills and qualities that a hospital nurse may need to further adapt for community nursing include:

  • Flexibility – Community nurses need to be endlessly flexible in their roles. For instance, you will be driving or travelling to a wide range of environments and will need to be flexible in how you get there. Additionally, you will be without much of the larger technical equipment of a hospital setting and will need to adapt to using smaller apparatus and tools.

  • Quick thinking – In emergency situations you will need to think on your feet to provide the best possible course of action, much like hospital nursing!

  • Problem solving – Problem solving is a day-to-day activity for community nurses thrown into unfamiliar environments and finding ways to administer the best level of care.

  • Compassion – Patients will need to be treated with compassion and kindness to help them understand and manage their conditions, bad news will always be hard to hear but compassion can affect the way a person understands it and reacts to it.

  • Education – From nutrition to medication, community nurses need to be able to transfer knowledge to those that need it and ensure there are as few unnecessary hospital admissions as possible.

When it comes to looking for your next nursing opportunity, we’ve got you covered. We can ensure you are always able to provide the best care possible by sourcing short and long-term assignments, out of hours, or back-to-back roles.

We offer full diary management and get to know you, your skills, and your long-term career goals so we can find assignments to suit you. Our specialist consultants are always on hand to help you with onboarding and compliance support.

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